McCain Veepstakes: A Woman?
David Paul Kuhn argues that John McCain should strongly consider choosing a woman as his vice presidential running mate in order to woo angry Hillary Clinton supporters. That premise strikes me as absurd, in that no Republican woman is going to be a suitable substitute for Clinton in the minds of her supporters. Still, reaching out to women as a means of attracting moderates is worth exploring.
Kuhn considers Condoleeza Rice the obvious choice but takes her at her word that she isn’t interested. Instead, he focuses on Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, and Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Palin, 44, would add youth to the GOP ticket. As governor she has shown a willingness to veto some of the state’s large capital projects, no small plus for fiscal conservatives. But it’s her personal biography, which excites social conservatives, and reformist background that might most appeal to McCain.
She’s stridently anti-abortion, and recently brought to term her fifth child — who she knew would have Down syndrome. A hunter, fisher and family woman with a rapid professional rise, Palin is a natural for Republican framing.
Palin has become a darling of the conservative blogosphere in recent months and has been touted quite a bit. She’s no doubt a rising star. But it makes little sense to nominate a 44-year-old with no foreign policy experience to be one heartbeat away from the presidency on a ticket whose principal message is that it’s risky to put a 44-year-old with relatively little foreign policy experience in charge of our nation’s security.
Fiorina is also already close to McCain. The two of them recently sat down at his Arlington headquarters with frustrated Clinton supporters and urged them to shift their political allegiance to him. On the campaign trail and on shows like CBS News “Face the Nation,” she’s served as a ubiquitous advocate of the candidate. Privately, she has also become one of McCain’s most trusted economic advisers.
That sounds like the résumé of a future Treasury Secretary, Fed Chairman, or Council of Economic Advisers chair. The vice presidency would be an odd entry job into politics. And, again, aside from trade issues, what’s her international relations background?
Hutchison had already engaged on McCain’s behalf, defending his embrace of the controversial conservative Pastor John Hagee earlier this year and making the rounds as a surrogate on the Sunday political shows (including an appearance Sunday on ABC’s “This Week”), though, like McCain, it’s a medium that does not suit her. And also like McCain, she is not a gifted campaigner.
In Texas, where she has been comfortably reelected, one Republican strategist notes that she’s “proven she can get scores of Hispanics in a huge state surrogate.”
I saw her on “This Week,” which I inadvertently TiVo’d. Rather than risk falling asleep at 11 a.m., I soon fast forwarded to the roundtable. She reinforces McCain’s negatives without bringing anything.
Palin would be my initial favorite if forced to chose from among these three candidates. But, surely, there are better choices? Going the extra mile to look at women and minority candidates makes sense; picking a weak candidate simply to fill a quota, however, does not.